When it comes to a road trip, it’s often about how you get there, not where you’re going. Make sure that journey is memorable for the right reasons with a few tips and tricks we’ve road-tested ourselves. They might not prevent the inevitable “Are we there yet?” but we know they will ease some of the other trials of taking a long car ride with kids.
1. Give the kids the map. Hand over your GPS during times of the trip where you actually know where you are going. Let the kids “navigate” and tell you which way to turn. Or hand them a road map and have them help figure out the route. Get tips on teaching kids how to read a REAL map here.
2. Bring enough headphones for each kid. It will ward off any complaining or whining. If your crew likes to listen to or watch the same thing, try BuddyPhones, kid headphones that come with an audio splitter for sharing.
3. Surprise observations. During the trip, have each person write down an observation or memory from the day. If you’re traveling more than one day, do it each day of the journey, there and back. Don’t share what you’ve written until you are home. Then have each family member read out loud their main “thought” for the day. It’s okay if it’s, “I wish we were there” or “I saw a giant clown on the side of the road.” You’ll get some laughs and relive the trip in a new way.
4. Use a shower caddy for mess-free eating. Tired of balancing lunch on your lap? Give each kid—and yourself—a caddy so that meals are contained in one neat place.
5. Stash plastic cutlery and napkins in the glove box. It’ll make eating in the car that much easier.
6. Make a killer playlist. It can make or break the road trip. Trust us. Find fam friendly tunes, starting here.
7. Beat the sniffles. Use a rubber band to lash a full tissue box to an empty one. Use the empty one to dispose of used tissues right after using, so they don’t end up all over the car/on the floor/in your snacks.
8. Make up some car bingo. Purchase a stack of ready-made car bingo games, or go the simple route by making a “checklist” of cool things you see on the road. The first person to fill up a checklist gets to pick where you pit stop for dinner.
9. Hang a shoe organizer on the back of each front seat. Big kids will be able to reach for books, snacks, and games on their own (and ideally they’ll be able to put everything back, too).
10. Download Sit or Squat. You’ll be able to scout clean bathrooms on your route.